The people of Tir celebrate many festivals but the greatest are the festivals of Calmae and Calgraef. These are the spring and harvest festivals, celebrating the brightening and darkening of the days. And they have special significance to the fay.
Mortal understanding of the fay has always been limited due to the fact that no-one can see or hear the fay without the Second Sight. So few know that each fay has two faces; one for summer, one for winter.
The summer fay are more given to frivolity, their pranks innocent and their play merry. But after the festival of Calgraef, their appearance, their personality, even their name changes. Their pranks become vicious and they take joy in humiliation and suffering.
Some would take that to mean that the winter fay are dangerous whilst the summer fay are boon companions. But the truth is that a fay is dangerous whatever face they might wear. The fay are immortal and seek to fill their eternal days with entertainment, with no regard to morality and often at the expense of mortals.
* * *
The fay got their dual aspect as I was researching fairy folklore. Folklore is, by its nature, a messy affair. Traditions are appropriated and localised, creating multiple versions of the same creature. Sometimes the fairy simply has a different name, sometimes its entire personality is changed. In trying to create my own mythology of the fay, I found myself struggling to choose between different ideas for the same character, as well as a plethora of potential names.
There are references to the folklore to the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, troupes of fairies that are benevolent and malevolent respectively. It wasn’t much of a stretch to imagine it was the same troupe, interpreted differently. It was a simple step from there to a magical transformation. I tied that transformation into Halloween, as that was traditionally when darker spirits began to roam the Earth.
Every writer wants to put a spin on a trope or tradition when they use it in their writing. The hope is that spin will be original rather than gimmicky. I hope the two faces of the fay will be seen as the former rather than the latter.